- Standard Number:
OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
June 26, 1992
Mr. James A. Martin
Post Office Box 233
Modesto, California 95353
Dear Mr. Martin:
Thank you for your letter of February 28 asking about the proper recording of occupational exposures to hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Your letter was forwarded to me by the California Department of Labor. Please excuse the lengthy delay in our response.
Question 1. At what point are individual exposures recorded on the log?
An occupational bloodborne pathogens exposure incident (e.g., needlestick, laceration or splash) shall be classified and evaluated as an injury since it is usually the result of an instantaneous event. It shall be recorded if it meets one or more of the following requirements:
1. The incident results in a loss of consciousness, transfer to another job, or a work restriction, and/or
2. The incident results in medical treatment beyond first aid (e.g., gamma globulin, hepatitis B immune globulin, hepatitis B vaccine, zidovudine, or other prescription medications), and/or
3. The incident results in a diagnosis of seroconversion.
Testing or diagnostic procedures are not considered medical treatment for OSHA recordkeeping purposes. However, the results of such procedures may indicate the presence of a recordable injury or illness. For more discussion about the medical treatment/first aid treatment issue see pages 42-43 of the enclosed Recordkeeping Guidelines for Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.
Each recordable injury is required to be entered into the OSHA records within 6 working days after receiving information that a recordable case has occurred. If the date of the event or exposure is known, the injury shall be recorded with the date of the event or exposure in column B of the 200 log. If there are multiple events or exposures, the injury shall be recorded using the date that the positive seroconversion was diagnosed (the test date).
Question 2. How can we insure confidentiality for the injured employee when the log must be made available to other employees and their representatives?
In the case that a seroconversion is known, it shall be recorded on the OSHA 200 log as an injury (e.g., "needlestick, laceration, etc"), not as a seroconversion. This approach allows the employer to record the case and provide access to other employees without revealing the seroconversion status of the affected worker.
At the present time we are drafting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to revise the recordkeeping regulations, supplemental instructions and forms. As part of that proposal, we will ask the public to comment on the most effective way to deal with the privacy/access issue. The problem is to find some method to resolve the conflict between an injured/ill worker's right to privacy and the right of other workers to be informed of hazardous conditions in the workplace. When the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, I hope you will provide us with any insights or comments you might have.
I hope this information is useful to you. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my staff at (202) 523-1463.
Stephen A. Newell
Office of Statistics